University of Wisconsin
In 1998, UW-Madison faculty member James A. Thomson published a landmark scientific report describing the isolation of Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs), which are 'pluripotent', meaning they can form any tissue in the body. This profound discovery ushered in many new advances in biology. Building upon Dr. Thomson's discovery, UW-Madison clinician-scientist David Gamm (Co-Founder of Opsis Therapeutics) and fellow researcher Jason Meyer published in 2011 a method that yields 'optic vesicle-like structures' from pluripotent cells. Multiple retinal cell types can be harvested from these structures, including photoreceptors.
Cellular Dynamics International
Recognizing the need for industrial manufacture of iPSCs, in 2004 Dr. Thomson founded Cellular Dynamics International (CDI). Over the next decade, CDI successfully developed a catalog of commercially available iPSC-derived cell types. These products led to a host of new applications, including an assay to predict cardiac toxicity of drugs, and the first FDA-approved iPSC-based potency test. In 2013 CDI completed an initial public offering (IPO), and began to explore development of iPSC-based cell therapies. Opsis Therapeutics maintains an exclusive partnership with CDI for development and manufacture of retinal cell products.
FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation
Two years after the Cellular Dynamics IPO, FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation, through a U.S. subsidiary, acquired CDI and began expanding operations. Added focus was given to development of a therapeutic pipeline. Originally the leader in photographic film products, Fujifilm has for many years been diversifying their brand with innovative technologies targeting the healthcare sector. Today Fujifilm remains committed to advancing a wide range of regenerative medicine products, and they are a key stakeholder in Opsis Therapeutics.